GOVERNMENT watchdog Scopa has called on President Jacob Zuma to recall former prisons minister Ngconde Balfour as ambassador to Botswana.

GOVERNMENT watchdog Scopa has called on President Jacob Zuma to recall former prisons minister Ngconde Balfour as ambassador to Botswana.

Themba Godi, head of the standing committee on public accounts, said the president must prove his seriousness about fighting corruption and deal with Balfour.

"I am still perplexed at how Balfour can continue to represent South Africa as an ambassador when he so seriously let the nation down," Godi told Sowetan yesterday.

His call comes in the wake of the special investigation unit's (SIU) report released in Parliament last week.

The Bosasa group of companies caused a stand-off between Balfour and prisons boss Vernie Petersen, with Balfour writing to the commissioner that "something must break" if they cannot "trust and work together in this department".

The SIU's three-year investigation found that alleged corruption to the tune of R2,1million took place in the Correctional Services Department while Balfour was minister.

The unit's report details how Bosasa won contracts from correctional services.

Last week unit head Willie Hofmeyr released parts of the report to the portfolio committee, including allegations that Bosasa paid kick-backs to top government officials amounting to more than R1million.

One top official allegedly accepted a house, cars and an overseas trip for his daughter and rugby season tickets to watch the Blue Bulls in exchange for awarding tenders.

Last year Balfour was involved in a feud with his director-general, Vernie Petersen, relating to the extension of a contract to Bosasa.

The feud was caused by Balfour's "interference" in the working of the department when he wrote Petersen a letter prescribing how the contract award was to be handled.

Bosasa's catering contract was subsequently extended.

The SIU has also revealed that its contract expired in April and new Correctional Services Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula had not renewed it.

Last weekend media reports revealed that Mapisa-Nqakula had sought to keep the SIU report under wraps.

This, however, was denied by the chairman of the correctional services portfolio committee Vincent Smith.

Yesterday Godi said Zuma must renew the SIU's contract and recall Balfour.

He said Mapisa-Nqakula and the rest of the cabinet "do not appear to appreciate the extent of the deep and endemic rot" in Correctional Services.

"This is confirmed by the failure to renew the mandate of the SIU after it has done such a good job exposing shocking levels of corruption so successfully. Is it an attempt to stop the SIU from bringing out more embarrassing and sordid acts?"

Godi also called on Zuma to make a public statement about Public Works Minister Geoff Doidge, who allegedly fired his acting director-general Solly Malebye after Malebye refused to obey Doidge's instruction to award the R45million contract.